Solve these cases of abuse and pay the abusers back.
Book title: “Hope: Stories from a Women’s Refuge”
Author: Rosy Stewart.
Genre: Crime – women’s fiction – domestic violence
Published: 5th Feb 2016
Sue Barlow is the manager of a women’s refuge in London. A brutal attack on Liz, one of the ex-residents, brings home the failure of a system that should protect women. She joins forces with Jade a young police sergeant, and Nina a reclusive Russian I.T. expert. Together they track down and tackle abusers. Very soon they learn that to succeed they must support each other to break the rules. This forces them to examine their own personal agendas to a depth they hadn’t bargained for.
Each chapter deals with a different case at the refuge.
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As Liz lay awake in the early hours, she thought of how Viktor had insisted on having sex. Although she had hated every moment she wondered if she had shown too much of an interest tonight. Would he suspect something was different on this occasion?
Viktor seemed to have fallen asleep quickly in the darkness, but Liz had not. As she listened to the autumn rain pattering against the bedroom window, she remembered Sue’s words urging her to come back to the Women’s Refuge if he was violent again. Liz was bruised from the previous night. She must go now if she wanted to be safe. This was her last chance for a new life.
Viktor’s foot was over her ankle so she would have to slide her leg away very carefully.
She inched away from him, then froze and listened. He was a light sleeper, and his breathing was usually responsive to any slight movement of hers. But the rhythm did not change.
She reached the edge of the bed and gradually sat up. Once her feet touched the floor, she eased herself up so that there would be no sound from the mattress springs.
She crept round the bed in the dark, guessing its dimensions and pausing after each step to check Viktor’s breathing.
Then slowly she slowly opened the bedroom door and quietly closed it behind her.
Liz tiptoed down the stairs in the dark.
When she reached the hall, she opened the cupboard under the stairs and carefully lifted the lid of the fuse box. There was just enough light to count along the switches to the one that controlled the outside security light. She flicked it to the off position. There was a quiet snap as she closed the fuse box. She waited to hear if there was any sound from upstairs. None.
Liz’s heart pounded as she moved across the kitchen, picked up her small rucksack, then turned the key in the back door as slowly as she could. After what seemed like an eternity, she stepped over the threshold. Carefully and silently, she closed the door behind her.
The security light did not come on.
She hurried out into the damp September night, across the wet lawn, avoiding the gravel path, towards her car parked halfway up the street.
The rain ran down her face and into her eyes as she desperately rummaged in her rucksack. There wasn’t much there. Just a change of clothes, bankcards, a little cash and her passport.
‘Please, God, no!’ Liz gasped as it came to dawn on her. For all her planning, in the anxiety of her bid for freedom, she had forgotten to pick up the car key from its usual place on the kitchen shelf.
Now she must face the unthinkable: to go back inside that house. She hesitated. She shivered at the thought. Finally, she brushed the wet hair from her eyes and steeled herself.
Looking up at the windows, she gave a sigh of relief when she saw no light had come on. She approached the back door, retracing her steps over the small garden lawn. Her shoes squelched in the rain-soaked grass.
She waited outside, listening for any noise before putting the key in the lock.
Liz hardly dared to breathe as she opened the door. The kitchen was pitch black. She felt her way round using the familiar work surfaces as a guide, and then stretched her hand up to the shelf to feel for the car key. It was not there!
She thought she heard a noise, a creak, so she froze and waited. But there was nothing further. The antique Russian wooden furniture that they had collected clicked as it cooled at night in this old house, particularly the sideboard in the hall. She’d heard it lots of times when she had been trying to get to sleep.
Then there was another noise, a bit like the furniture click, but louder and nearer, not from the direction of the hall. It came from behind her.
Rosy Stewart is a pen-name amalgam of husband and wife writing team Stuart Larner and Rosie Larner. Rosie Larner is a retired Social Worker and lecturer in Health and Social Care. Rosie was co- leader of a West Yorkshire Drama Workshop that focused on festival performance and members achieving external LAMDA awards. She has directed and performed twice at the Edinburgh Fringe. In Scarborough Rosie writes prose, poetry and plays.